Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Secret to Losing Weight

When i was a teenager, i used to spend Saturdays at my Grandma's house pretending to help her clean and do laundry. I'm sure the things i did helped a little, but like looking back at most things, i wish i had worked a little harder. Anyway, i'm glad that i had the time with my grandparents that i did and got a chance to hear some of their stories. One thing i remember is that Grandma decided she was going to lose some weight. She went to a hypnotherapist who i thought was evil incarnate since he tried to brainwash her into thinking chocolate looked and tasted like animal excrement. He made her keep an elastic band on her wrist that she was supposed to snap herself with whenever she opened the fridge or thought longingly about food. It all seemed very masochistic to me, but the more i learn, the more i think hypnotherapy (psychotherapy?) makes sense because losing weight (and living life) is all in our head.

We all know how to lose weight. Eat less and exercise, right? Well, most of us also know that it is not nearly that simple. I'm not suggesting that i know everything about losing weight, but i'm going to share some of what i have learned over the past 10 months in the hopes that it may help someone get closer to their goal of reaching or maintaining a healthy weight. When i say "learned" i really mean "what i have come to believe" about food and eating and my body. Because the beliefs that i had about food and my body's needs were having me eat more than i needed and this was causing me to live a life about which i was not inspired.

So in a way, the process of losing weight for me was learning truths and in a way it has been about "brainwashing" myself into seeing things in a way that has me eating less and differently. Part of it has been about caring enough about myself to do what i need to do to feel better. I read an article that said when you binge you should be gentle to yourself. Don't hate yourself or beat yourself up. My sister, Cindy, told me, "disgust is not a good motivator."

Cindy was my inspiration. She was the reason that i believed that i could actually lose weight. She has been a Weight-Watchers life-time member for years. She is amazingly dedicated and I love how willing she is to share what she has learned and what has worked for her.

As it turns out, disgust actually did motivate me to get to my first WW meeting last March. Can you imagine not being disgusted that i was apparently perfectly happy at this weight? I had a hard time finding a "before" pic of myself. That is possibly because i am more often behind the camera than in front or it could be that everyone else knew how awful i looked and didn't want to break it to me by photographing me. So, yes, i was sick of looking and feeling the way i did, and that got me to a meeting, but what kept me there was the hope that the meetings gave me. I got all kinds of great recipes and formulas for success, which is part of why the program works. Whenever you are discouraged or have a bad day or a bad week, you go to meeting and you realize that you did have some success and that you have people and they are cheering for you. Now don't get me wrong. When i found out that I could only have 32 points (and that included 10 extra points because i was breast-feeding at the time), I was terrified. My eyes bugged out of my face. I thought they were joking. I didn't think it was possible to survive on that few calories.

Low Blood Sugar v. Low Blood Pressure

I really had never eaten that little in my life. I have always thought that i had low blood sugar, meaning when i fasted i would get deathly ill. Well, maybe not deathly, but i would get a horrible migraine (is there any other kind of migraine) and get sick to my stomach and feel like i was on the verge of losing consciousness. Consequently, i rarely fasted and i used my "blood sugar issues" as what i considered to be a perfectly valid excuse. Several events led to me reevaluate the blood sugar thing. My Mother-in-law mentioned to me that whenever she had a headache it was because she was dehydrated. I started to notice that was true for me too. Then my friend, Cherie asked me if i had ever been diagnosed or actually had a blood sugar test when i felt "low." I had to admit that i had not. It was a case of self-diagnosis. And finally, during my most recent pregnancy, i started feeling that, "I am in danger of passing out" feeling right before a check-up and i asked the receptionist for a sucker because i thought what i was feeling was low blood sugar. When I got settled in my room and the nurse took my blood pressure, it was 97/58 or something ridiculous like that. She told me that i needed to drink more water to bring my blood pressure up and that if i did, i would also not feel so spent.

When i remember that moment, i hear an actual "Click... ding dong ding dong ding dong." Wow! It all makes sense!! When i feel like i have low blood sugar, i really just have low blood pressure. This realization has changed my life. I fast now (well, in my husband's opinion, i'm not really fasting, since i still drink water) and i don't get sick. I no longer compose my life around making sure that i have ready access to food at all times. I drink more water (also a Weight Watchers principle). I carry water with me instead of food.

Some more tricks I've adopted:If i think i can't stand the growling stomach for one more second or if i'm feeling sorry for myself (what? you eat when you feel sorry for yourself?), sometimes i'll pop a bag of smart-pop 94% fat-free kettle corn and eat the whole thing, then down a tall glass of water. It makes ya feel kinda full and satisfies the munchies. Probably not the smartest thing, but this is survival, baby!

And truths I've learned: I used to think, "I need to eat a lot now, so i won't be hungry later." What i have learned is that even if i eat a lot now, i will still be hungry later. And if i save half of my Arby's Market-Fresh sandwich for later, i get to enjoy it twice! Because do we really enjoy the second half of our sandwich when we down it all in one sitting anyway (this is one of my mind tricks ~ heh heh)?

I have had a little success in losing weight and believe me, i'm not one of those self-disciplined people. I have to sort of hypnotize myself and consciously play little mind games with myself: First off, like i said, when i start to drag, i try to remember "i'm thirsty, not hungry." Then there is that thing i remind myself about being hungry later anyway, so I don't have to eat it all now. Then there is the story i tell myself that i actually enjoy it when my stomach growls. I remember my mom always told me that my stomach is only as big as my fist so that's the amount of food i should eat (Hang on a second... how come i can eat half a pizza and a thing of crazy bread and still be hungry?). Oh, and that thing she always says about how "it feels better to be thin than it does to eat something fattening." I'm still working on making that one a part of my belief system, and this next one I'm not even sure she believes: "if a food is going to hurt her tummy or her teeth, then she thinks it isn't worth the pain it will cause."

One of my favorite things is to do is to eat a salad or a Smart Ones frozen lunch because it tastes great and i feel like i'm doing something good for myself. I've even started to like things like edamame for lunch. pop a pack in the nuker and 3 minutes later, you are a vegetable-snarfing nut-cake.

Another "trick" that works for me is not to deprive myself. I'd rather go hungry for a week than miss my dad's turkey dressing at Thanksgiving dinner, so I do. I eat salads for a week and drink lots of water ~ or diet soda, which feels like a treat, without the calories ~ for a few days leading up to the big day. Or if i have an opportunity to eat something unplanned but fabulous, i just do it (in moderation... not the whole box of Cherie's hand-dipped rum-nut chocolates in one sitting, only half :)). I promise myself that i'll eat smaller portions for a couple of days or that i'll exercise, and sometimes i actually do, but i (usually) don't let myself feel guilty about it because, as i like to tell myself, that would be counterproductive and even harmful.
Reward yourself:

For a sweet treat, convince yourself that sugar-free gum is an indulgence... or oh, try one of these. Heavens, there are millions of health conscious treats and snacks on the market! And loads of resources for inspiration and information. One good place is And finally, here's the big secret to weight loss (shhhh!): There is n-o - s-e-c-r-e-t. There's not a shortcut. There isn't a magic pill. You've just got to find what works for you and then you have to do the work. You are the only one who can make a lasting difference for yourself. You have the power. I'm not claiming to know everything. I don't know much, but i do know that the amount of weight i've lost this year is like setting down my chunky little (25 lb.) baby. Imagine carrying him with you all day. It makes your back hurt, doesn't it? I feel great. I have actually (gulp) even felt like running on occasion. I don't do it for long, but i do it in short bursts and it doesn't kill me. So, girls (and guys), whatever stories you have to tell yourself, whatever games you have to play with your mind, do it. It's worth it. You are worth it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Water is... blue

If you don't believe me, it's because your bathtub is not deep enough. i used to be under the vague impression that the blueness of the ocean was a reflection of the pitch blue of outer space or the blue of the swimming pool was because the tiles were blue.
My bathtub is white and the only other blue thing in the room was my eyes and they were behind the camera.
Another random thought: at first i was disappointed that my new tub was made of plastic, but guess what? Plastic is not nearly as cold on your back as cast iron covered with enamel.

Words that Landon says

Landon uses a fork!! yay!
And he's talking, too. Here are some of the words he can say:



Where's the ball?

Balloon (more like "boon")

Poop (and then he lies down to get his diaper changed)

Boo (like peek-a-boo)

he signs "Milk" when he's thirsty

Lights (He started saying "lights" when his dad put up the Christmas lights this year. Every morning he wants to open the door and see the lights he knows were on last night)

And sometimes he says random stuff that i'm sure he means but doesn't repeat. Like yesterday, he pointed at his foot and said, "It's a foot." I asked him where his foot was and he showed me, but he didn't say it again. He nods a lot when you guess what he wants(and sometimes throws a fit if you try to give him what he doesn't want ~ like a nap or a nose-wipe). He's very independent and plays on his own a lot. It's scary when he's quiet for a while and i can't hear him. One time i ran all over the house looking and found him asleep on the floor in the girls' bedroom.

He's a pretty obedient kid most of the time. When i ask him to do something he does it happily. I know, he'll probably grow out of that soon. Sometimes if he doesn't want to do what someone (mostly Karlee) wants him to do, he does this amazing thing. He puts his head on the floor and throws his arms up behind him like a "downward facing dog" in a yoga for crazy people video. He actually posed for this picture. I asked him to do down-dog and he did.

Two Sundays ago marked his big 18-month move into the nursery. I had Megan take him the first time so he wouldn't have anxiety. It worked, and when i picked him up, he ran screaming from me to the door where they had locked his ball! Then last week he wouldn't have the nutty 6 year old carrying him again, so i figured it would be harder to say goodbye, but i let him look in the window and he wanted to get down and go in. Wahoo! Wahoo! Imagine me in the hall at church doing the victory dance, fingers pointed in the air, knees knocking.

He says more words, i just can't think what they are. Oh:

Yay! He throws both arms in the air and cheers "Yay!" after you finally guess what he wants to eat.

Surprisingly, no "Mama" yet... or "Daddy." Of course, i'm not listening as hard for that one. He knows his Daddy alright. When Dad's there, no one else will do. Unless... Dad's dressed up like a freaky old person in a red suit.

Funny, he didn't seem to have a problem sitting on this guy's lap. Of Course, this guy had candy. Karlee wouldn't go near either one, even though she saw the first one get dressed and knew who it was underneath all that combed polyester.

He says "shoes" and "juice" and "uh-uh" and "uh-oh" and probably about a dozen or so other words i can't remember right now. And maybe a thousand that he's saying and i just don't understand. This is my favorite age and i love this kid!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why is there PAIN in PAINT?

We are ALMOST finished with this remodel. I know what you're thinking, "That's what you said in the middle of July." It's true, but this time I really mean it.
It has been a huge stress on our family, and i don't know that our marriage would have survived if we hadn't started therapy right before we started remodeling. Of course it would have survived, but it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun. Just a couple of illustrations: Wade almost failed his first term in English. This is my kid that loves to read! He even takes extra classes on reading!! Will's letter to Santa ended like this: P.S. The reason i'm having trouble controlling my anger lately is because we started too many projects at once. It's true. We added two rooms on to the house and it has affected every room in the house. We had to patch up the windows that were covered by the new rooms, so that means tile and paint in those rooms. We added a doorway and a closet to our bedroom, so that means paint and while we are carpeting the closet, the bedroom carpet is thrashed, so let's replace that and we really wanted to change the tile and the vanity and the tub and the tub surround (well, we didn't really want to replace the tub surround, but have you ever tried to pull a tub out and keep the marble surrounding it in one piece?) and the towel rack and the light bar, oh, and let's just throw in a toilet to make it a clean sweep. And because we got a new family room, that meant that we had an extra room that we could turn into a bedroom for Will and why don't we just replace the carpet in the whole basement? Round and Round we go and where we stop, nobody knows.

At some point during the finishing stages, which we told our contractor we would do to save money, we got a little overwhelmed and i called our friend, Paul who does finish work and handyman/carpenter stuff. He has been a gift from God. So we didn't save quite as much money as we'd hoped. instead, we saved a good portion of what was left of our sanity.

Anyway, right before Paul was finishing up the other day, he mentioned that the whole bed/bath/closet/foyer/stairs would be perfect if he added a kind of random, earthy texture to it. the thing that made me mad was that he was so right. i decided not to have him texture the stairs, since it was completely painted and finished and i'm going to hang pictures all up and down anyway, but it did mean that i had to re-prime the closet and the bathroom and i had to prime the bedroom, the hall and the foyer, which i wouldn't have had to prime otherwise. So as he drifted off to sleep at midnight-thirty, Michael says to me, "No wonder there is PAIN in Paint." "I'll show you pain, buddy," i thought. But then i decided to turn my anger into a productive use of energy. I started doing plies instead of bending. I thought that would strengthen my core and eliminate my back strain. That lasted about 10 minutes... really it lasted on and off until i finished with the priming, and i think it made it take quite a bit longer. But my core is strong. HooHaa!

Painting the white primer, playing over and over in my head was the word sanitorium. that is where they send crazy people, right (i know, random, repetitive, uncontrollable thoughts are a sign of mental illness)? not that i'm not crazy, but i was just so glad that we have color. Color makes me so happy. It warms me up, but that has got to be emotional because i don't think Mexican Sand or Chateau Brown register any higher on the thermometer than alabaster or arcade white. I guess if i get overwhelmed, I can always call Paul, but i am excited to do the actual painting. It's very rewarding and i want to do an antiquey rub or a glaze to give it even more texture. If i paint every day for 6 days, i figure i can wrap it up. Heh. not like i have anything else to do.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's Christmas!!

I had locked the front door so that i could take a bath and Karlee was worried that the kids wouldn't be able to get in after school, so she had me come open it and when i did, she burst out, "It's Christmas!" Indeed, the snow was coming down in big, fast bundles of flakes. It doesn't exactly make it Christmas, except... why not? That static you see in the background is SNOW!

End of an Era

How can it be a happy moment for a Mom to see her son cry? Will's team played in their final little league play-off game together. Afterward, even the coaches got teary-eyed. And it wasn't because they didn't win their game. It was because they knew that this was the end of an era. The end of what they have spent the last 4 years building. The great thing is, i'm sure many of the friendships built on this team will last a lifetime. When you work and play that hard and long together, it doesn't just go away because play-offs are over.

These coaches have given their guts to the kids on this team. They're just kids themselves, most of them. They don't have kids on the team. Most of them don't even have kids. They didn't have to do this. It is a part-time job during the football season ~ except, wait. They don't get paid.

I'm having a hard time expressing the appreciation i have for what these coaches have done for our boys. They have made them run drills and do ladders and up-downs and laps and push-ups and sit-ups plus a list of other conditioning exercises that i've never even heard of until the boys are begging for mercy and/or hating their coaches. They've taught the cerebral part of the game as well as the physical. One of the coaches is a professional sports massage therapist, so he took care of the boys when they got muscle injuries. They have given all the kids who show up to practice and work hard equal opportunity to play in the game. It isn't that they don't have favorites, i'm sure they do, but their favorites didn't get more play time. And they have earned the respect of the boys. Those kids would do anything for Coach Tim and the rest of 'em. Including not drink soda because it might slow them down. I'm not sure why that impresses me so much.
Will has only played on the team for 2 seasons, but these 2 football seasons have given him a taste of what it is like to really work with passion for something and how good it feels to earn a measure of success ~ even if that success doesn't mean you win every game. As a parent, you can talk 'til you're blue in the face about how the things we have to work hard for are the only things worth having but until they get a taste of that, it is meaningless for a kid. So I want to say Thank you to the coaches of the Grey Juniors. Thank you for doing what i couldn't do for my son.

It's all ok... right?

I started to wonder last night whether or not my dad's belief about living in this great country was adopted to calm his children. We turned on the news around 8 PM and watched John McCain's speech and my boys started to get a little upset. They began to repeat things they had heard people say about how now terrorists were going to be allowed to take over the country and one of them demanded, "How can we elect a person who doesn't even have a birth certificate?" So then i gave them the, "Aren't we blessed to live in a land where the outcome of an election doesn't start a war?" that my dad gave me.

At first, i attributed their worry to having ridden to the football game last Saturday with a couple of right-wing coaches who have no children of their own (so they don't worry how their conversation affects young children), but then i remembered that they have heard even members of our extended family rant about some pretty radical stuff.

And perhaps (shudder) i have something to do with it. I mean, his friend was in the car with him and he was also at our house last night and he wasn't upset at all. Of course, you have to account for William being a more serious kid than most 15 year olds. Okay, though. Have i entertained the idea that perhaps Barack Obama is not exactly who he says he is? Yes. Have i expressed that to my children? Probably in not so many words. Maybe my calm, rational explanations are more harmful than Grandma's ranting about terrorism and conspiracy.

Do our children have the right to (or should we afford them the luxury of) growing up with a feeling of relative security? Should we tell them that all is well? Do they really need to be worried about how the country is being run? Don't they need to focus on their schoolwork? Shouldn't we let them be kids? Or at least be a little carefree? Will there come a day when all is not well and they will need to know it? To be emotionally prepared?

Children are concrete thinkers. When we say things like, "The economy is going to pot! My retirement fund is not going to be worth anything!" or "I'm going to have to take out a loan to fill my gas tank." They think, "We aren't going to have enough money for food this week." Okay, maybe not all kids think that. When i was a kid, i heard my parents talking about some of their financial struggles and when life went on as usual, i figured that those kinds of problems weren't really all that important. My impression of my big brother was that he just took my parents' issues way too seriously (or took too much responsibility for them). But maybe i had my head in the sand thinking that their issues wouldn't have any effect on me. Or maybe i understood on some level that they also had made many good financial moves and those were not so readily "discussed."

Anyway, i think i'm going to adopt my niece's philosophy on the subject of the presidency. Can i quote you, Claire? "I will try my best to show him the respect that I think was lacking for President Bush over the past 8 years because he is now going to be our President. Not necessarily by agreeing with him on probably anything, but by not calling him stupid for one." We still both agree that we might have to call socialism socialism when we see it. I blame that less on Obama, though and more on ourselves. Socialism is what we want and socialism is what we are going to get. Maybe just sooner than later.

Oops. Can this entry duck under the cover of not being so controversial in the future? :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Favorite Things

The smell of a newborn's head
kissing a chubby baby cheek
watching a good movie with popcorn at home in bed
reading a good book in a blankie with hot cocoa
losing weight
eating chocolate (shoot!)
finishing a project
packages from Tallulahs
pictures of my family
hearing good music
singing good music
eating lunch with a friend
listening to my kids practice piano